Not every drop of drinking water that is produced will find its way to a tap. Leaks and bursts in water pipes can cause significant losses. However, water has become so scarce and precious we really need to use it mindfully. To that end, in 2019, De Watergroep started an ambitious program that aims to drastically lower the so-called ‘infrastructure leakage index’ (ILI). By the end of 2025, De Watergroep ‒ and in fact the whole of Flanders ‒ wants to be part of the world top when it comes to leak free water pipes. An important element in attaining this goal is to be able to detect water leaks faster and tackle them pro-actively, by deploying leak detection software, for example. In this context, the collaboration between De Watergroep and Belgium-based Hydroware will become crucial over the coming years.
De Watergroep has insourced Hydroware’s expertise to be able to implement an all-in-one solution in the battle against water leaks, using smart leak detection software. The basic principle is simple: real time water use is continuously compared with the ‘normal’ water use predicted by smart algorithms. Any anomaly will trigger an alert. These novel modeling techniques allow to detect more leaks and at an increased level of preciseness, to discover leaks below the radar or new leaks faster than before and to quantify the volumes of water lost because of the leak. This provides De Watergroep with all necessary information to define correct priorities when detecting and repairing leaks.
The partnership will start in one hundred so-called district metered areas (DMA's), discrete areas in the pipe network in which the incoming water flow is metered. In a second wave, the approach will be implemented throughout the entire service area of De Watergroep, over 400 DMA's in total.
The ultimate goal of De Watergroep is to reduce the infrastructure leakage index (ILI) to less than 0.5 percent by the end of 2025. To that end, the drinking water company has drawn up a vast program containing several action areas. One of them focuses on gaining better insight in leak losses, an important prerequisite to identify water leaks in a data-driven and knowledge-driven way and to correctly define priorities. The start of the collaboration with Hydroware supports all other parts of the program that De Watergroep is implementing on faster repairs, improved pressure management and an adjusted pipe replacement program.
“Our aim is a climate resilient way of water supply”, explains Hans Goossens, CEO of De Watergroep. “This entails that we have to resolutely tackle water leaks. The current leakage index is (too) high, for several reasons. The current condition of the pipe network plays a part in this, as do the many rural and hilly areas in our service area and the long distances the water has to travel. In the past, a high leakage index was actually tolerated, because water scarcity just wasn’t an issue and the cost of repairing the leaks was considered higher than the water loss cost. Today we have a fundamentally different view. Water is too precious to waste. Reducing the leakage index is at the top of our priorities. At the end of 2019, we launched a program spanning several years to reduce the index to 0.5 by the end of 2025. We are increasing the level of investment in improving the quality of our pipe network. At the same time, we invest in new technologies. Together with Hydroware, we are building specialized software to detect leaks faster and more efficiently.”
“We are of course very proud to have been selected in a European tender. Our Hydroware consortium offers an all-in-one solution including a leak detection platform and a collaborative journey. The leak detection platform consists of three user-friendly components, more particularly a GIS viewer, Prioscan and LeakRedux®, and can easily be integrated in the existing application landscape. The collaborative journey enables us to support each other and exchange know-how, ”continues Dries Storme, project leader Hydroware and senior manager at delaware.
“The complementarity of both businesses, delaware and HydroScan, in the new Hydroware entity is exactly the reason why De Watergroep has selected us. Hydroware is a unique combination of system and data integration with Belgian water know-how in leak detection, modeling, security of supply, integration of digital water meters and preventive asset management,” adds Patrick Swartenbroekx, partner at Hydroware and HydroScan’s CEO.
Less leakage will make the drinking water supply in Flanders more climate resilient, an ambition that is entirely in line with the plans of the Flemish Government to combat water scarcity and drought, as defined in the Blue Deal. Together, we turn Flanders more robust in periods of drought and hot weather.